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Dating and Preparing for Marriage (Part 6) - Dating Unbelievers and Believers, Spiritual and Financial Compatability, Engagement

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For a master copy of the outline, click here: Dating and Preparing For Marriage

To listen to the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 5
To listen to the next sermon in the series, click here: Part 7

C. If a Christian's heart is right, his purpose in dating an unbeliever is to attempt to convert her.
i. There is a lot of risk involved in this approach.
ii. If the person ends up being truly converted, then glory be to God. I have seen this happen.
iii. If the person ends up feigning a conversion, only to later depart from the faith, there will be intense pain for you. I have seen this happen.
iv. If the person ends up not being converted and the relationship is broken off, there will be intense pain for you. I have seen this happen.
v. If the person ends up not being converted and you marry them anyway, you will have a divided house (Mar 3:25) and they might draw you away from the faith (Deu 7:2-4).
vi. If you marry an unconverted person with hopes they will convert after marriage, know that you are taking a big risk.
a. They may be converted. I have seen this happen.
b. They also may not be converted, which will be painful for you (Pro 13:12).
D. I highly recommend not becoming physically involved with a person you are dating until after they are converted and baptized.
i. As was shown above, becoming physically involved (kissing, etc.) with someone will introduce a heightened level of emotional connection into the relationship which can cloud judgment and make a break-up much more painful.
ii. As much as possible, you want to make sure that the person is embracing the faith because they truly believe it, not because they are emotionally attached to you.
E. Make sure to seek the counsel of your pastor when you are dating an unconverted person, and especially if you are considering marrying one (Pro 15:22; Pro 11:14).
i. Sadly, if you would be considering this, you would likely not come to your pastor for counsel because you wouldn't want him to rain on your parade.
ii. As your pastor, I would not forbid you from marrying an unconverted person (because the Bible doesn't absolutely forbid it), but I would strongly advise you against it in almost every situation.
iii. I will only perform the wedding of a man and a woman who are both members of this church or of a church of like-faith.
2. Guidelines for dating believers (a believer dating another believer of like-faith).
A. Do NOT assume that since you are of the same faith as another person of the opposite sex that you are compatible to marry them.
i. Like-faith should be a necessary quality in a potential spouse, but it is not a sufficient quality.
ii. Different people have different interests and personalities and are therefore not always compatible for marriage or close friendship, regardless if they are of like-precious faith.
a. This should be obvious after a couple of dates.
b. If you find someone with a personality which is attractive to you, then move on down the list of essential qualities.
iii. Just because someone is a member of the same church doesn't mean that they have the same level of understanding of the faith and commitment to it as you do.
a. There are 30, 60, and 100 fold Christians in the church (Mat 13:23).
b. There are some who read their Bible routinely everyday for 15, 30, or even 60 minutes (Jos 1:8; Psa 1:2); there are others who frantically try to remember where they laid it last Sunday afternoon as they rush out the door for church.
c. There are some who only miss church when they are in the hospital or the morgue (Psa 84:10); there are others who attend just often enough to keep the pastor off of their back.
d. There are some who pray throughout their day: when they get up, before reading their Bible, before each meal, before they leave the house, in the shower, in the car, and before they go to bed (1Th 5:17; Luk 18:1); there are others who pray when they are in trouble.
e. There are some, who for them, church is their life (Psa 27:4; Psa 87:2); there are others, who for them, church gets in the way of their life.
f. There are some who are always at every church event (Bible studies, men's and women's outings, church picnics, dinners, etc.) (1Co 16:15); there are others who are never at any of them.
g. There are some who endeavor to make church brethren their friends and spend time with them outside of church (Mal 3:16; Psa 119:63); there are others who keep their church and personal lives separate.
iv. When looking for a spouse among believers of like-faith, I would suggest looking for someone who is at least on your same level of commitment, and preferably someone who is a level above you who will pull you up, not bring you down.
v. I would recommend looking for a believer that you can at least have fruitful spiritual conversations with, even if they do not have as high of a level of understanding as you do.
B. Once you have narrowed down the field to those believers with whom you are spiritually compatible, then it's time to talk about money.
i. Financial issues are often listed as the number one reason for marital problems.
ii. Therefore it is absolutely essential to make sure that you and the person you are dating and considering the possibility of marriage with are on the same page about money.
iii. Some things to watch for and consider:
a. Does the person have debt? A mortgage, home equity loans, car loans, student loans, personal loans, credit card debt? (Rom 13:8; Pro 22:7)
b. Does the person spend all their income, or do they save a reasonable portion of it? (Pro 21:20)
c. Does the person love pleasure and spend money lavishly on food, drinks, entertainment, toys, etc.? (Pro 21:17; Luk 12:15)
d. Does the person waste and throw away food or other things? (Pro 12:27; Pro 18:9; Joh 6:12)
e. Does the person faithfully give the firstfruits of all their increase to the Lord, or do they give their leftovers when they happen to remember? (Pro 3:9-10)
f. Does the person want to spend multiple thousands of dollars on a wedding?
iv. If the person doesn't have debt, find out if they are averse to it or if they just haven't yet embarked on their dream journey of being a lifelong debt-slave.
C. If you are spiritually and financially compatible, then consider whether you are intellectually compatible.
i. It's not necessary for your potential spouse to have an IQ that is +/- 1 point from yours, but it would not be wise to marry someone whom you cannot relate to on an intellectual level.
ii. If you are astrophysicist by occupation and as a pastime you like to discuss quantum mechanics around the dinner table, then you probably don't want to marry someone who dropped out of pre-algebra in seventh grade.
iii. This doesn't mean that a highly intelligent person would not be compatible with a person of average intelligence if the highly intelligent person was content to discuss normal everyday things and didn't feel the need to go too intellectually deep to connect with their spouse emotionally.
iv. Intellectual compatibility should quickly become apparent if you are either bored or intimidated in conversation with your date; in which case you should keep looking.
D. Finally, if you find that you are compatible with the person you are dating in all of the preceding ways, then (carefully) discuss whether you are physically compatible.
i. Physical and sexual attractiveness are normally the first thing (and the most frequent thing) that we think about when dating.
ii. Physical attractiveness is important in a relationship, but it is not the most important thing (Pro 31:30).
iii. A person who has godly character will become attractive to a godly Christian; while a physically attractive person with poor character will become unattractive to a godly Christian (Pro 11:22).
iv. Sexual compatibility.
a. Sexual compatibility concerning anatomy is almost never going to be an issue and most likely doesn't need to be discussed.
b. Sexual compatibility (concerning practice) will be learned during marriage.
(i) This is NOT something that needs to be experimented with to ensure compatibility.
(ii) That is called fornication, which is sin (1Co 6:18).
(iii) Contrary to popular beliefs, statistically, couples who "test drive before purchasing" have a higher rate of divorce than do those who wait until marriage.
c. Ideas about the purpose and frequency of sex should be cautiously discussed only when the relationship has progressed to the point where marriage is being seriously considered.
X. Final considerations
1. How long should you date before becoming engaged?
A. Dating is the process of sifting through potential spouses and then proving the one that you consider to be marriage material.
B. There is no Biblically prescribed time limits for dating; therefore it is up to your discretion.
C. You should date a person long enough to be certain that he or she would be a godly spouse for you and meet the qualifications set forth in this outline (Pro 19:2).
D. Make sure that you have seen the person's bad side before becoming engaged.
i. Remember, the person you are dating will always put on their best face in the beginning.
ii. Your girlfriend or boyfriend will usually be a better person than they are when they are your wife or husband.
iii. Pay attention to how they deal with conflict, stress, and disappointment.
iv. Date long enough to make sure you have had disagreements and even a fight to see how they deal with them.
v. Pay attention to not only how they love, but also how they fight.
E. Make sure you have a chance to observe them around family and friends who know them best.
i. Don't be afraid to ask those closest to them what they think of them.
ii. Bring them around your family, friends, church, and pastor and get their opinion of them.
F. Date long enough until your infatuation with them has at least somewhat subsided and you can think rationally.
G. I recommend dating someone at least six months before becoming engaged, and a year or more would be wise in most cases.
H. Make sure you don't marry the wrong person (Pro 21:9; Pro 21:19; Pro 19:13; Pro 27:15).
I. It's better to go through the pain of breaking off a relationship prior to marriage than to go through the lifelong pain of being married to a bad man or woman.
2. How long should you be engaged before marrying?
A. Engagement should not be considered part of the dating/proving process.
i. Engagement - 2. a. A formal promise, agreement, undertaking, covenant. d. The fact of being engaged to be married; betrothal.
ii. Engagement should only be entered into when you are absolutely certain that you want to marry the person and spend the rest of your life with them.
iii. Foolishly, many people today have very long engagements in which they continue to act as if they are still dating.
B. Therefore, since an engagement should only be entered into once you are certain you want to marry the person, an engagement should only last long enough to plan a wedding.
i. During your engagement, make sure to spend most of your time planning your marriage, NOT your wedding!
ii. Your wedding is only one day of your marriage and, with the exception of the actual vows which establish the covenant of marriage, the events of it are relatively unimportant in the big picture; so you would be wise to save your money and have a simple wedding which is inexpensive and easy to plan.
iii. If you go the simple route, an engagement would only need to last at most a few months.
iv. An engagement that lasts a year or more probably means that you are not ready to get married and you shouldn't even be engaged.

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